Brazilian Banks’ Profits Raise Market’s Boat

Latin American stocks were mixed to higher, with Brazilian and Mexican shares gaining on hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates on Wednesday but then pause its tightening cycle at subsequent meetings. Argentine issues fell amid mixed earnings.

Brazil’s Bovespa Index rose 98.22 points, or 0.24%. Mexico’s benchmark Bolsa Index jumped 371.22 points, or 1.75%, while Argentina’s Merval Index dropped 22.29 points, or 1.18%.

Brazilian shares edged up amid optimism about local corporate earnings. A raft of companies are scheduled to report later this week including banks Banco Itaú and Unibanco, and companies Vale do Rio Doce and Eletropaulo.

Helping to buoy investor sentiment, Brazil’s largest private bank, Banco Bradesco, said today that its first-quarter earnings rose 27% to 1.530 billion reais.

Investors were also looking ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest-rate decision on Wednesday. Investors will pick apart the Fed’s policy statement in search of any indication of whether a pause in the current U.S. monetary tightening cycle is likely at future meetings.

In other developments, a major investment bank cut its price target on Vivo to US$ 6.00 from US$ 6.50, citing the company’s "disappointing 1Q results."

Elsewhere, Mexican stocks surged to a record high, resuming a recent rally following a bout of profit taking on Friday. Shares were supported in part by optimism about the outlook for U.S. interest rates.

Argentine issues dipped amid mixed earnings news from local companies. Shares of Siderer dropped after the steelmaker reported late Friday that its first-quarter net profit fell to 324 million pesos from 425 million pesos a year earlier, due to higher operating costs.

Bucking the downtrend, however, shares of Petrobras Energia Participaciones rose after the oil and gas firm posted a first-quarter net profit of 365 million pesos, up sharply from 149 million pesos a year ago.

Thomson Financial – www.thomsonfinancial.com

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